This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis –- to whom quoted text may be attributed -– at the press briefing, on 30 January 2007, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Another 50 Palestinians have fled to the Iraq-Syrian border following a traumatic week in Baghdad, bringing the total number stranded at the frontier to about 700. The 50 made the hazardous journey from Baghdad to the border four days after 73 Palestinians traveled the same road following the temporary detentions of 30 Palestinian men by militia in the capital last Tuesday.
UNHCR also received information that two buses carrying some 75 Palestinians left Baghdad Monday morning, but at least one of them was unable to make it to the border. The bus was reportedly forced to return to Baghad because roads were blocked by crowds during the religious celebrations for Muharram.
Syria continues to deny access to all Palestinians who are now stranded in two makeshift camps. A group of 356 has been in the no-man’s land between Iraq and Syria since May, while the second group, which has now expanded to some 340 is stuck in El Waleed on the Iraqi side of the border.
On Monday UNHCR and its NGO partners provided food, water, kerosene, hygienic items and medicine to El Waleed camp. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and local NGOs will be bringing more tents and other relief items today. A medical team visited the group on Sunday, but was unable to help one Palestinian man who died Sunday night from a severe asthma attack.
Despite our efforts to help them, the Palestinians continue to live in inhumane and insecure conditions. We again urge the international community, including neighbouring and resettlement countries, to help find a humane solution for these refugees who are persecuted inside Iraq and have nowhere to go. UNHCR estimates that some 15,000 of an original group of 34,000 Palestinians remain inside Iraq.